3 Americans die in plane crash while fighting Australian wildfires

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A C-130 Hercules plane from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service dropping fire retardent to protect a property during an operation to douse bushfires in Penrose, Australia, on Jan. 10, 2020. Saeed Khan / AFP – Getty Images file

RICHMOND, Australia (KETK) – Three American firefighters helping fight the devastating wildfires in Australia were killed on Thursday after their plane crashed in New South Wales state, according to an NBC News report.

The plane was identified as a C-130 Hercules firefighting aircraft and it crashed around 1:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. on Wednesday Central Time).

The Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that there was a large fireball as soon as the plane hit the ground.

“Unfortunately, all we’ve been able to do is locate the wreckage and the crash site. We have not been able to locate any survivors.”

The plane was registered to Coulson Aviation, a private American company that was contracted by the Rural Fire service. Coulson has grounded its remaining C-130 Hercules tankers as a precaution.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will be deploying a team to investigate the crash. The identities of those killed have not yet been released, pending family notification.

“Our hearts are with all of those who are suffering what is the loss of three remarkable, well-respected crew that have invested so many decades of their life into firefighting and fire management,” Fitzsimmons said.

He also said that there were more than 80 fires still burning in New South Wales alone, and half had not yet been contained.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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